Community Participation for Sustainable Educational Development: The Nigerian Experience

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) are seeking ways to utilize limited resources at their disposal in order to identify and solve problems in the education sector and provide quality education for all children. Their efforts have in no small way, contributed to realizing the significance and benefit of community participation in education, Not only this, their effort have also recognized community participation as one of the strategies to improve educational access and quality.

This does not mean that community participation is something new in the education delivery. It, however, did not suddenly appear as panacea to solve complex problems related to education. In actual fact not all communities have played a passive role in children's education. For example, Williams (1994) opined that until the middle of the 19th Century, Europe responsibility for educating children rested with the community. However, we still have some places where communities organize themselves to operate schools for their children today.

In preparing and executing any effort to promote community involvement in education, it is pertinent to understand the whole picture of community participation.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study is expected to provide a lee-way to mobilizing government planners to improve on design and implementation of projects periodically while communities are equipped with skills and knowledge necessary for project management on sustainable and self-reliant basis.

Concept of Participation: Some schools of thought have expressed their opinions on the concept of participation. For instance, Paul (1987) regarded participation as the active process whereby beneficiaries influence the direction and execution of developments rather than merely receiving a share of the project benefits. Also, Simmons (1994) described participation as the ability to control and manage resources not only in a sustainable way, but also in a manner that meets people's social, cultural and economic needs. Adekola (2008) opined that participation is an educational empowering process in which people in partnership with those that are able to assist them identify their needs and increasingly assume responsibility for themselves to plan, manage, control and access the collective actions that are necessary.

Participation can therefore be said to be an all-involving process whereby beneficiaries feel the sense of belonging in the planning, implementation and sustenance of developmental project in their community.

Principles of Participation: Since community participation is a developmental approach designed to involve the people themselves efforts should be made to avoid one person from hijacking the project and making it a personal one. In the light of this, community people should be given the opportunity to develop their own model of participation. Not only this, participation in community projects should also be a response to the felt needs of the people with the hope of deriving concrete benefits from the projects within a short time frame. Participation should also foster friendship among community members and develop leadership skills in the participants (Adekola 2008).

Merit of Participation: Participation brings about improved design of projects or programmes in which planners and executors through people participation, take advantage of local technology and knowledge in the planning and designing of the developmental programmes. Osuji (1991) observed that participation brings into public consciousness irrational and emotional but useful elements, which may not have been considered in the rational planning process.

Furthermore, participation fosters adequate mobilization of human and material resources needed for successful project implementation. Not only this, it also equips people with the skills and knowledge required to handle their own affairs on a sustainable basis. …